POOR MOM

John Paul Jones

My mother, brother and I had to fly unaccompanied to Germany as my Dad went ahead to secure quarters on the economy. Dad made all the arrangements but it still was going to difficult, my brother was a terrible traveler at the best of times (I just know he was swapped at birth, no way he was a Brat). Things went fine until we got to Chicago.

We had to check in to switch airlines. There we found a strike in London redid all our carefully laid plans. My brother started going into whiny mode hours ago on the first plane, it just was accelerating. The lady at the gate was trying to explain the new flight plans to Mom, she got as far as Lufthansa, when I heard a terrified cry, “John, What’s a Lufthansa!”  It took both me and the counter lady to calm her and explain that No, it wasn’t a biplane, that fought against Snoopy.

We flew into New York, late at night, everything had closed. At this point everyone was very hungry but nothing was open. Mom pressed a few bills into my hand and sent me out to forage, a Brat skill I had developed, I found a hot dog vendor just closing up. I begged him for some dogs, he pleaded no English, no problem, I switched to my fluent Spanish, and he gave me his last two dogs. Mom passed on the food, feeding her cubs instead. Finally, we boarded the dread Lufthansa Boeing, we were separated. They woke us up, even though our internal clocks said night time….they said breakfast.

This of course made my brother VERY grumpy, traveling AND waking up early!!!!  The OJ on top of an old hot dog did not agree with him, and he promptly threw up, on himself, the seats, and the now, equally grumpy German businessman next to him. Again I thanked my good fortune not to be seated next to him. Poor Mom.


SHOUT!

The play SHOUT! was inspired by Inner Voices, a story written by Army veteran Theresa Duke for the Museum of the American Military Family’s anthology, SHOUT! Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writing by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services. Lora Beldon, the 2017-2019 museum Artist-in-Residence and museum Director Circe Olson Woessner co-edited the anthology.

Inner Voices had exceptionally compelling dialogue and Beldon and Woessner agreed the story would translate well on stage. Playwright Melissa Rayford seamlessly wove together multiple stories contributed by service members, military spouses, brats and allies into a strong, thought-provoking and poignant piece. 

Beldon says, “Shared stories help build and define our identity…help communities learn from each other. People who haven’t experienced what LGBTQ veterans or their families have, can better understand and learn about the subculture through the play.”

In 2018, SHOUT! and the museum’s companion exhibit Still Shouting – Memories from Inside the Closet  received the American Association for State and Local History’s prestigious Albert B. Corey Award, gaining national recognition for the museum. 

SHOUT! debuted in Richmond, VA, on September 22, 2019 and received positive reviews. 

Rayford, who also directed the Richmond performance said, “It is our hope…that we create a production to be used by any theatre group wishing to produce this subject matter.”

While the 2020-2021 Covid pandemic sidelined further stage performances, it did not stop Beldon and Woessner from collaborating with Dr Deborah Cohler (San Francisco State University) and Dr. Erica Chu (Truman College) to create educational materials based on LGBTQ and military history and stories in the script to help enhance the audience experience and to provide further education by facilitating post-play discussion.

In December 2020, Los Angeles based director, Herb Hall led nine actors in a virtual reading of SHOUT!.

Navy veteran Kayt Peck reviewed the online reading saying, 

“I applaud the Museum of the American Military Family in their efforts to acknowledge LGBTQ service members, especially those who spent years, even decades serving in silence, protecting a country that did not recognize them as worthy citizens. This remains a dedicated mission for the Museum even as Covid makes live theatre an impossibility.

“SHOUT! accomplishes a critical need by making discussion of gays in the military not simply a discussion of a concept but also showing the impacts on real people and acknowledging the talents and dedication of LGBTQ service members. Those talents help make the military the efficient and effective component of society that it can and must be.”

Hall will be directing a virtual one-day matinee performance of SHOUT! on June 27, 2021 at 2 PM PDT.  The museum board and cast are raising funds to cover expenses through a dedicated fundraising platform. 

Air Force Spouse Aimee Hanebeck, one of the many volunteers working tirelessly to ensure the play moves forward, says, 

“This is an important work of theater and a source of great pride for the museum to have curated the stories for the play. In this innovative time of a post-Covid exposed world, artists have found ways to bring their craft to their audience, and as such, SHOUT! will be available in an online performance.

We would like to invite you to be a part of this project. As a nonprofit, the museum is sustained entirely by donations from patrons.  In order to uphold the dignity of this script, we have set a goal to fairly compensate the actors and staff, record the performance, and make it available for greater circulation and for use in academic and corporate settings.”

Volunteers have set up a dedicated Fundly account, and anyone who contributes to it will receive a  link to the June 27th performance.

The museum is a 501c3 all-volunteer non-profit located in Tijeras, New Mexico, seven miles east of Albuquerque. Visit the museum’s webpage to learn more about SHOUT!


Military Family Travel

John Paul Jones
Whenever the family traveled whether on vacation or to a new posting it was in the family car, invariably a station-wagon of some make and model. My Dad always drove, by the age of six or seven I was promoted to the front passenger seat. This was an important spot for it carried great responsibilities. I was the navigator, a task I became very good at, so much so I filled it on patrols overseas, and on field trips as I got my masters and PhD. I was responsible for keeping my Dad supplied with drink, sodas, coffee, or water, and snacks. The most important of which was cinnamon balls, a hard candy.
I never had a sweet tooth but to this day I still pack cinnamon balls when I travel, and cinnamon gum when I fly. The locals I trained overseas loved that practice.
My mom was in the back seat with my younger brother (6 years younger). Her responsibilities were legion, she had to take care of my brother Davey, pass me drinks, and large snacks. Our Scotty rode in the very back, he usually hung over the seat, mainly over my mom’s shoulder, breathing his “fragrant” doggy breath in her face. My mom armed herself with a squirt bottle of a blue powder which was supposed to improve on the smell. In truth all it seemed to do was make the dog snort a couple times. The Scotty indicated when it was time for him to relieve himself by digging his claws into my long suffering mother’s shoulder.
I can remember the collective din inside the car, my Dad yelling at me, “Which way do I go dammit!” Going 70mph down the freeway, while demanding a cinnamon ball or Pepsi, my Mother balancing my little brother as he stood awkwardly trying to pee in a Tang Jar (no stops except for gas for this family), the dog snorting from blue powder which drifted in a fine mist over the back seat, as my mom cringed from his claws digging in. Ah! Travel for the military family